Maria Savva Interviews . .The Blackfires

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Maria Savva Interviews . .The Blackfires

I came across a great rock band on ArtistSignal recently. If you like rock music, you really should take a bit of time to listen to this band. They have a passion that brings back memories of old favourites like Guns ‘n’ Roses and Led Zeppelin. The Blackfires have become quite a popular live band locally in New York, and deserve much more recognition. Currently, you can vote for them on ArtistSignal, at the following link
I invited them here for an interview.

Interview with The Blackfires

3 at Gramercy 2

How long has The Blackfires been together and how did you meet?

CHEGGI: We started this band in 2011. I came to New York from Moscow, Russia to pursue a music career. To organize a band, a great band ideally, is always a challenge, especially in new country, with no connections. I posted an ad on craigslist. Something like “I’m a frontman, whoever wants to conquer a world with me, jump on board”.  I got a response from a drummer – Ilan Harel. Later he confessed to me that he replied just to find out who the “psycho” was who thought he could conquer the world. But that is how the band was established. Later a bass player joined who Ilan knew. But we needed a great charismatic guitar player. I searched through the internet and found Anthony Mullin’s profile on this social networking site called know it’s like love at first sight, some chemistry. You don’t even know who he is, but you know he’s gonna be in your band. However there was a problem. He has no e-mail or contacts on his profile. Basically bandmix obscure e-mail addresses they detect in the code to make you pay for their messaging. So I just took his name, all that was there “anthonymullin@” and added all the possible email etc…I didn’t have a response for a month. But when he replied back – I was THIS IS A SIGN!!! It meant I’m on the right way. Later Mullin brought his friend Chris Daou to the band. And that’s how it all started.
MULLIN: Cheggi has it pretty much spot on there, but I do remember it a little differently. I didn’t realise bandmix had obscured my contact info. and wondered why no one was sending me e-mails. So when I got one I was happy but I was late replying as I had some other auditions lined up. I listened to Cheggi’s vocals and was impressed instantly. But then as my obsessive mind tends to do I thought “OK but everyone puts their best foot forward online – I have to hear this live.” So we arranged a jam where Cheggi brought Ilan Harel, who just happened to have brought his brother’s bands bass player, this lad Ryan Egan. Cheggi asked do you know any Zeppelin? I said of course. He said OK let’s do rock ‘n’ roll. I was floored that he could pull off Plant like that live in the room. That was it for me. I brought my mate Chris for the next rehearsal for the much needed 2nd guitarist.

You have an excellent EP available at the moment “Live at the Cutting Room”. How long did it take to put together the songs for that EP? Which are your favourite songs to play?

MULLIN: Thank you, it’s lovely to hear that about our music. Odd but good. I’ll get used to it. The EP actually didn’t take long to record itself. It was done live in one day, at the cutting room of course. We were all in the same room and played through the 5 songs. We did overdubs for a couple of parts the next day and that was that. Choosing the songs was the hard part. We ended up doing a vote so everyone had a pick with one extra song.
For me, I love to play “Just a Thrill” and “Gambit” the most live. “Just” has a great disco breakdown in the middle with Chris and I doubling each other in various positions on the neck. “Gambit” is more complex with Chris and pulling off some cool sounding harmonies. For “Gambit”, and all the songs for that matter, Cheggi sings so well. I sometimes find myself watching him like a fan onstage. And It’s true I am a fan. Some people think you shouldn’t smile and play it cool, but it’s hard to around that kind of talent. 
CHEGGI: We were arguing a lot about which songs we should record for EP. These 5 were basically the result of our compromise. My favorite songs to play are: “Rocker Child” – it is really personal lyrically wise – telling story of a rocker guy -Rocker-me! and what rock ‘n’ roll is really about! What I had to face  to be here in NYC and play rock music. 
And “Just A Thrill”.  – I love play this song live. Lyrics were written by Chris Daou and Ryan Egan – but it is so about me I guess. 
Who writes the songs for The Blackfires?

CHEGGI: We all do. The songwriting process in every band is different. Even within a band. And I guess it changes with time. Sometimes it’s someone’s idea being developed, sometimes it’s a written song being adapted to the band. Lately we prefer old school rock ‘n’ roll writing – when the song comes out of a jammin’ in a studio.MULLIN: Yea what he said. We all do the writing. It just depends on where the idea comes from and in what state. Sometimes there’s a full song and everyone loves it and it’s good to go as is. More commonly though we have a snippet or we start from scratch and jam until it’s a song. As you can probably imagine songwriting can be really difficult and you can’t be precious about your ideas. Even though everyone is sometimes. 

Where does the inspiration come from for The Blackfires’ songs?
CHEGGI: Personal experience. Books, Movies, Legends – especially pirate legends :)  Love, Sex. Subconscious. But basically i’d say women are my biggest inspiration.
MULLIN: I agree with Cheggi although one word will suffice, “life.” One thing I’ve learned is that being open to anything is important for creativity. So our songs are commensurate with that notion.

You’ve been playing live quite a lot over the past year. What have been some of your favourite shows?
MULLIN: I’d grew up in Leeds which has a great music scene. But obviously I heard a lot about New York and it’s venues, Gramercy Theatre, Mercury Lounge, Webster Hall. To have played at all three has been a humbling experience and felt like a rite of passage for us. For me playing Gramercy Theatre twice was a great experience. To play on a big, professional stage is something you want. Also Mercury Lounge. We played Mercury as a sold out show on sticky August weekend night – it was a lot of fun, as was the after party from what I can remember.
CHEGGI: Gramercy Theater – I adore performing on a big stage. 
If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?

CHEGGI: I’d play everywhere whenever they want, even when they don’t wanna hear us. But I prefer stadiums. So I guess Wembley Stadium.MULLIN: Wembley would be amazing. If you think of those classic gigs like Queen, Live Aid, who wouldn’t want that? In the city I’m looking at Bowery Ballroom next, that seems like a fun venue. And while at it, Pink Floyd played in Pompeii amongst the ruins. I wouldn’t be against that.

I understand you’re working on a new EP/album. How is that going? Do you have an estimated release date?

CHEGGI: At this moment some line-up changes are going on within a band. We’ve had a long break as a result. We are really looking forward to getting back in saddle again, to quote our friends in Aerosmith. As for a record we are looking to release something in the first half of 2014.MULLIN: Yes unfortunately we’ve had to contend with a lot lately in terms of a change in personnel. We’ve been writing lots lately and have plans to release perhaps one track before/in the new year. With a larger release in the first half of 2014, as Cheggi said.
Do all the band members have similar tastes in music?

CHEGGI: There are plenty of bands that we all love and are inspired and influenced by – Guns N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Aerosmith to name a few. That’s how I guess it connects us to each other within the band. That’s how you glue.  But we are different, with different backgrounds. So we also have a variety in our tastes which sometimes comes out accidentally. That’s where your band members discover your skeleton in the closet – for me some pop music. That’s when you have to experience a walk of shame, of sorts.  And hey we are artists – so a mocking process from your bandmates, they could be very talented, but by this age I got used to stand even for my most shameful beliefs.  But the funniest thing when everyone suddenly starts playin’  a most cheezy-pop song that you like and we all makin’ fun of it.  
MULLIN: I think we do have some similar tastes in music that bind us. Rock music to use a generic term is the common link I’d say. We all love the giants, like Cheggi said Zeppelin, GNR, Aerosmith, Deep Purple. But as soon as you mention rock you have to go the blues. I know Cheggi and I love some of the old blues greats Elmore James, Robert Johnson, SRV, of course Hendrix is in the somewhere. But to tell you the truth we do differ as well which is important. For me I’m into heavy metal especially Metallica, Slayer, Black Label Society, Megadeth to name a few. Also some of the solo guitar players like Eric Johnson and Joe Bonamassa I’m really into. I know Cheggi likes some Russian traditional music and theatre like Jesus Christ Superstar.
Have you been to any good gigs by other bands recently?

CHEGGI: We support local music and our friends form other NYC bands. But I missed a lot of shows recently. I say Ten Ton Mojo – that’s a band I like to watch on a stage. They Rock.MULLIN: I’m out and about a fair bit and definitely like Ten Ton Mojo. Also a couple of CMJ bands stood out to me recently Strngrs who we are sorting a gig with, The Midnight Hollow, and The Dead Exs. In terms of bigger acts, I saw Buddy Guy recently at the Iridium who is always great.

Where are the best places for people to find out more about your band and music online?

MULLIN: I suppose our website Definitely facebook as well – music is available through our site and CD Baby, and a UK site Also soon we’ll be on Spotify and iTunes.

Do you have any other news for your fans?
MULLIN: First and foremost thank you. It is said a lot, but we mean it when we say we are so thankful and are humbled by your support. We appreciate you sticking with us through the hiatus but we have great new music coming your way and will be out playing live soon – December 6th Arlene’s Grocery, NYC at 10pm.

Band Bio:“…a genuine, earnest hard-rock sound that has the polish and flair to excite any crowd, The Blackfires definitely are a must-see live act. For those looking for great new bands these dudes absolutely need to be on your radar!” – Bowery Boogie

With members from the UK, Russia, Spain, Uruguay and of course NYC, The Blackfires are indeed a unique blend of rockers. Between them they are PhD educated, hold degrees from Oxford and Columbia, are trained in philology and film-making, and the list goes on.

Yet, as accomplished as they are in other fields music is their forte. Yes they are fucking good.
Pulling off Deep Purple’s opus Child in Time and the odd Led Zeppelin cover to a tee are just some of the things you get from The Blackfires.

Leading the band is Muscovite Andrey “Cheggi” Chegodaev with a voice and onstage antics that are immediately recognizable and captivating. Page, Gillan, and Jon Bon Jovi all come to mind but there’s definitely something new about Cheggi’s vocal stylings. On guitar is British born Anthony Mullin, who’s jammed with the likes of Brad Whitford (Aerosmith) and Tony Bruno (Rihanna/Enrique Iglesias/Cher).
His rhythm playing is notable, however it’s his scorching blues-based lead improvisation which really draws the listener in and provides the perfect accompaniment to Chegodaev.

Their debut EP “Live from The Cutting Room” engineered by Tom Gardner (John Legend, Danger Mouse) and mastered by Tony Gillis (Iggy Pop, Prince), really highlights the diversity of their talents. They draw on their myriad influences with an impressive result, rock music that’s exciting and sounds new.

Selected Press:

“The Blackfires were on next and holy-asskicking-rock-monster Batman! They are the Charlton Heston of unsigned bands: the essence of all that is man and all that is rock. Their look, energy, and performance was everything a good rock band should be. Tight, well-lubricated, and raw (get your mind out of the gutter you heathen), The Blackfires delivered an amazing show. Every musician stood out: both guitarists, drummer, bassist, and singer all were in the moment and came together to do what rock bands should do: rock everyone’s face off with precise musicianship and monstrous energy. Even the most interesting man in the world from Dos Equis listens to them. Their cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” was a nice touch and the singer pulled it off VERY well, which is extremely difficult to do” – Gotham Rocks

”And truly the sight to behold – a man so absolutely enraptured by each song, he gyrated menacingly and without pause. With long hair caked with sweat and guyliner, Chegodaev is the personification of rock band frontman; almost a throwback to a more glorious era of hard rock” – Bowery Boogie

”This is an exciting time for The Blackfires in their history as a band. To be a part of this moment, even as a listener and concert-attendant, is an honor and privilege. Their story has only just begun, and it is still being written. That means absolutely anything is possible for them as a band. And from the looks of it, there isn’t a single power on this planet that can stop The Blackfires now” – The New Philadelphia
Keep up to date with The Blackfires at the following links:Website:
Facebook:’t miss the gig if you’re in NY on 6th December: Arlene’s Grocery, NYC at 10pm!


Maria Savva


My official website:

My other blog is at Goodreads, where I’ve interviewed some great musicians in the past. On that blog I mainly chat about my writing news, and also interview other authors. You can find it here:

I am also part of the team, and maintain a blog that promotes indie authors:

Please feel free to follow me on Twitter too: @maria_savva


  1. […] I interviewed The Blackfires on the blog last year. Here’s a link for those of you who missed it: […]

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  3. […] interviewed The Blackfires last year (, and some of you may remember that I posted about them entering Hard Rock Rising. The great news […]

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